Friday, June 5, 2009

its time to goo back

i couldnt believe it... our trip came to end. it was time to say goodbye to east asia and all the people we had met. the last day we rode our bikes for the last time to hikone castle. i was actually sad to leave my bike. i had grown fond of it.:) (the bell was the best part)
so that day happened to be the day me and Ting didnt wake up! We were supposed to meet downstairs at 830am. It was 855am when Jessica (Dr. Pengs wife) opened the door to our room and was like "wake up we have to leave!" Me and Ting jumped out of our beds and got ready within, no joke, 5 minutes we were downstairs. I mean we were getting ready as we walking down the stairs but yeah we made pretty good time :)
We got to the castle and it was so pretty. The blue and white architecture was amazing. The stairs was a battle to climb, but thats one thing this trip did, built up my endurance level. The one and only Hikonyan was there and posing for pictures. As we stood in line I looked around and realized, wow this is it, I will back home this time tomorrow. the tour guide took us around and explained each of the rooms to us. it was very interesting the amount of time and effort in creating one single item.
On our way back, me and Lauren were on our bikes heading back to JCMU. We followed Kathyrn and Bob back but we lost them in the process and were lost in Hikone. We figured no big deal considering Hikone is so small and being here for a week and riding our bikes everywhere that we would be able to figure it out. But to our surprise we were lost for a good hour. Riding back and forth, asking the locals to help us. But Hikone is a small city and English wasnt popular. So when we asked for direction it was confused faces both ways :) ... finally we found Lake Biwa and followed it back to JCMU. We ran and had 3 minutes to pack and be downstairs with everything cleaned and returned and have been checked out of our rooms. I was like a chicken with its head cut off. I was running back and forth trying to return my bike, cleaning out the fridge, packing and bringing down the bedding. It was a mad dash to finish because we were leaving for Osaka that night. I was finally done and we loaded into the bus. We said our goodbyes to out the students we met at JCMU and vowed we would stay in touch once they came back to Michigan (hopefully we do :D)
We ended for Osaka were we would stay in the O'hare for the night to catch our plane at 6am.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

free day in taipei

soo im still taking it back-- and May 16th is the day:)
So after seeing the scenic Taiwan we were back in Taipei city. Since we had visited 3 universities before we decided who better to show us around then locals. So we made plans to go to the zoo. Not any zoo... The biggest zoo in Asia. I was pretty excited cant lie. We meet out Taipei friends in the lobby and headed out. It took like a good 20 to 25 min train ride to get there but a good time to bond and get to know each other a little bit more. We get there and its going to "close" in an hour in a half. We figure plenty of time. At the entrance you get a time slot to see the pandas (they are a recent edition to the zoo). so we start of with the flamingos and then get in line to see the pandas. We get there and within 30 seconds the panda was in and out and we were getting told to keep moving. So being the tourist I am, i completely ignored the lady pointing towards the exit sign and lingered around to see the panda again. I believe it was feeding time so we were like maybe on our way back. We saw lions, giraffes, horses, rhinos, panthers, gorillas, monkeys... you know it we saw it. It was a great time and I really enjoyed the company of the students there. The zoo was supposed to close at 5. However at 5 there was no dash to the exit, on the contrary we went further into the zoo. We walked around, joked and had a "merry" ole time (hahhaha). It was around 540 and we figured we should leave (considering we really didnt see anyone else there). There was a small park near by. We stopped there for a bit just to relax. Well and Suyash bought a killer panda toy creepy thing :). We were all super hungry and so Doug took us to an all "American" place. It was good and filling and we just kinda sat around for a bit before we headed home. It was a great day, good times with some super cool peeps.

taking it back........

hello from america...........
for the next couple of blogs i will be taking it back and reminiscing all the good and bad times I had in taiwan and japan. :)
So I am starting for block one, day 1 May 9
It was pretty insane that I, Fatima, was in Taiwan. So random... so we hit the ground running in Taiwan we didnt waste a minute. The first thing was the weather. Wow.. I mean the humidity was almost unbearable and i wasnt expecting it to be this hot and sticky. Becasue of the jet lag we were up and ready at 8am and we headed to Taipei 101. To me it looked like a bunch of chinese take out boxes all stacked up. :) nonetheless beautiful. This is were it all started.. group pictures with the M flag. I didnt realize then that it was going to be staple in every picture and the position you took then would would define where you would stand in all the group pictures. (there was a lot riding on this :D). we got on the fasted elevator-- which was pretty cool--and we arrived on the 86th floor. We were each handed a English headset and told to meet back at here in one hour. I attempted to listen to the headset but got bored and decided just to look around :) hahha yeah i know---me Lauren and Brain went to the observation deck and the view was astonishing. you should see everything. to prevent suicide there was like wire ropes all the way around. So naturally to get a good picture i stuck my camera through the wires and starting snapping away. to my surprise that was against the rules and i was told by the gurad. To make matter a litte more interesting I actually had the SOM camera and so the little dilemma was all caught on tape. We roamed around at the top for a bit and headed back inside. The coolest part was the damper. This device that would help support the structure in case of an earthquake. (pretty good thinking). to make it kid friendly they made a cartoon "Damper Baby". cute looking aliens characters were located throughout the viewing areas. So of course some pictures were taken with them.
We went downstairs to get lunch, wow that was a true culture chock. I mean I wanted to order but it I couldn’t use my mouth it was a game of charades pointing,, nodding, shaking my head was the way of communicating. I ordered traditional Taiwanese food. Yeah not my best decision. I mean to me eggs and oyster do not go together and the rice and vegetables were just there. Yeah I was still so hungry after. We went to a night market in the evening. So basically this is a whole lot of stores in a 2 miles radius. People are everywhere and you can barely here yourself think because of all the music and loud sales people. At first I was with the group all 11 of us were together, within moments me and Lauren got separated from the group. At the moment we didn’t think it was that big of deal thinking we will definitely run into someone we know. So we walked and walked and walked we couldnt feel out feet t anymore. From a distance we see a street we assume it was the street where we started off from. We head towards it once we get there we look both ways and realize we were truly lost. In complete frustration we decide lets just end back and with out handy dandy badges we can ask a local to show us the way. As soon as we make a turn low and behold we find other classmates. WOW the sigh of relief that we saw some familiar faces. I could not have been happier. Come to realize they were lost to and were looking for the other classmates as well. Since it was a night market we continue to shop and browse through the stores. The best part was the illegal shops. They were set up in the middle of the road on nothing but a blanket or small cart. Once a cop came it was like a fire drill; each person did a specific task so the shop would be closed in less then 1 minute. From what we saw; 3 cycles of laying out their product to closing it back up within 2 hours. It was quite entertaining because it was no time to say excuse me. We were getting trampled and pushed by everyone. I cant count how many times I kicked, stepping or nudged a person in that market.

Friday, May 22, 2009

hey hey hey
ohiyoo gozaimus! its the final days in Japan and i am sad to leave everything behind. we went to the Toyota plant today and learned about their philosophy on management, inventory and overall process. after we returned to JCMU we went to west hikone to eat some sushi and wow did we eat alot, plates were staking up left and right. the night was still young so the students of UM Flint and the ones that we met at JCMU went bowling/arcade place. it was fun just hanging out and talking. after then we headed back and hung out in the lobby.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


hey guys
is fatima here
today was packed with stuff. my personal favorite was the golden temple. it was absolutely amazing. pics will be up soon. we learned about how the temple was constructed. for example when we walked on the floor they were squeaking we assumed that it was old and built incorrectly,however to our surprise it was purposefully done so that the people could hear if there were any intruders! (first security system to date ;D ) also they had very thin rice paper (i believe) walls so that they could see the shadow of any intruders.
also we went to a puppet/geisha show- they picked volunteers for the tea ceremony and yours truly got chosen. it was fun we went up and had tea with THE geisha and thats were i meet gustav- he is from mexico! we both were kinda scared considering the audience was starring at us and we had to do things in a specific order... thank God they gave us a cheat sheet for all the steps
a little funny story- i bought some souvenirs at the temples and then for dinner , me and some of the other participants went to this restaurant, because we were on a time crunch we were eating while paying and leaving ;) so of course i ran out without anything in my hand. when we got to the bus station i noticed that i had nothing in my hand and it was soo late to go back. i was mad at first but realized cant do anything now. we went to the puppet/geisha show and we were going back to that place. me and monzir ran to the restaurant and it was there... thank god. we ran back trying to meet the other students and we kinda got lost. i was freaking out because if we miss this one we will have to wait for another 30 minutes and essentially holding up all the other students. we finally found them and had 2 minutes to get to the platform and get onto the train. we ran--- like bob said-- we felt like we were in the movie home alone-- we ran down the stairs and made it. i got on a seat and passed out! the night still was not done. we had to take our bikes back to the JCMU. it was like 1030pm and in Hikone there are no street lights. my light on my bike wasnt working so i had to make sure i was by someone who had there's on. it was soo scary and i felt like any second i would flip off. ;D fortunately i didnt
also our trip to osaka is cancelled due to a outbreak of the swine flu!
(thanks gustav!)
alright bye for now!!
also my japanese is improving ..........


Sunday, May 17, 2009


because of the lack of internet we had in taiwan
here are some of the blogs i wrote :)
May 14, 2009
Wow these past few days have just been incredible. I mean to actually be there here and seeing everything is great. We have visited a lot of universities and meet some of the nicest people. Actually we are going to the zoo with the people we met. Yesterday we arrived in the eastern part of Taiwan and we didn’t waste any time. We went to national Taipei park; it was so beautiful. Me, Levi, Robert and Brain went literally above and beyond. We climbed some stairs to a shrine, saw some stairs behind the garden and decided that we should just see where it leads. We were in the clouds (hahah not really but close) I could barely breath, but nonetheless a great experience. After that we went to the beach where we finally took our jumping picture ☺ it turned out pretty awesome. Then after a long day of traveling and site seeing we went to the hotel, checked in and left for dinner. To get to the restaurant we had to take a cab. At the end of ride we start taking out money however it was no what he wanted. He went back and forth and at the end he was like get out. We were laughing so hard in the streets and were so lost and actually didn’t know if we ended up in the right place. Fortunately Ting had already paid him and was trying to relay that to us. ☺ dinner was great. After that we ended to the hotel and just hung out. The next day we went rafting aka team building according to Dr. Peng . That was great, many laughs and smiles were present. That took us around 3 hours. It was truly a group effort. getting through some of the spots was pretty difficult but hey thats the fun of it. at the end I was pretty dry, but one of the guides didnt "like" that and as i was getting out of the boat he came with his boat and splashed me with a wave of water. I thanked him with a death stare and made my way to the bus.... happy, wet, and slightly irritated ;). We dried off and headed to another part of Taiwan. It was a good two hour drive and the resort and surrounding area was beautiful. We checked in and headed for a bike ride. I am pumped up and ready to go. that enthusiam didnt last for long. Wow at the 1km mark I was done for I kept going til 2.5 km and could not take it anymore. Thank god I wasn’t the only one. Me, ting and suyash headed back down and it was amazing. I mean the town was filed with greenery, nature, and wildlife. We went to dinner and just hung out. Me and Mee went to the herbal spa and it was great so relaxing. Because I didn’t finish the bike trail yesterday me and ting decided we would finish it in the morning at 630am that may seem early but we seem to still have a little jet lag. We are all waking up at 6am with no alarm. So ting and I rented a bike and went for one of the best bike rides in my life. The scenery and the views were breathtaking. The trail only took us 45 minutes. We returned and headed to the bus.
May 16, 2009
Yesterday we went to the aborigines spot. We walked in just in time to see them singing and dancing. the main lady voice was out of this world. i have never heard anyone sing with such power. we walked around the place, feed the fish in the pond, and hung out by the cafe. After that we walked around and headed for lunch where we had some good local food. From there we went to two other sites that had great views and good food. our last stop was quite interesting; it was a museum and grocery shop all in one. At the grocery store there was tasting testing. I was a little hesitant to try but figured I should; when in Taiwan try things:). I started with familar items and worked my way around the store. as i am finishing my round i stop at a booth and try a cookie. The lady at the counter started talking to me in Chinese. Me and Ellina just stood there, smiling. not really knowing what to do, so we figured we should stand there. She kept pointing to me and then to my scarf and kept on saying the same thing over and over again. I honestly had no idea what was going on. Finally Levi shows up and translates what the lady was saying. The lady was trying to warn me not to eat what was there because it contained pork and she knew that I dont eat pork. I thanked her and was impressed by the attempt to warn me. Too bad I ate the cookie and actually enjoyed it. I went and watched my mouth out and laughed it off . After that we headed to the train station that would take us back to Taipei. The train ride was a blur considering I pasted out the whole way back. When we arrived we gathered our stuff and headed to another night market. We went to a Buddhist temple and shopped around.
we are in japan
yesterday was crazy we went site seeing in taipei, then got on the bus, then on the airplane, then filled out 1000 forms-- it was soo annoying then a train ride after all that we finally arrived at JCMU!